Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green living and a slightly different motivation

Living "green" is all the rage.  Eat organic, recycle, reduce your carbon footprint save the whales, blah, blah, blah.  We hear it all the time and it's even to the point of becoming a bit annoying at times.  Here's a newsflash though.  For those who know me you may be shocked to know that I have embraced much of this lifestyle.  It may not be to the extent that some would like and it's hardly in the name of anything noble or as an activist activity.

As a part of "Backing 'er Down" and attempting to live a more simple life I have found that living "green," as some call it, can aide in my journey.  Some of the activities are beneficial to my gardening, healthy for my family and good for my neighbors.  Some of my environmentally friendly activities have even been interesting forms of entertainment as I learn new skills and easier ways of doing things.  The most important benefit though is that the lifestyle has the possibility of saving me money.  So there you have it.  It ain't about Mother Earth.  It's about me, lol.

Let's look at a few of my activities shall we?

1.  Recycling
A couple of years ago I was all about recycling cans.  I even went to the practice of taking my oldest son with me on golf cart excursions along the ditches where we live.  That's when aluminum was bringing good money.  The bottom fell out and I got out.  So I was helping save the "Earf" for a good three or four months.  Yay me!

Recycling isn't all about dropping off your trash at some municipal refuse center though.  In it's simplest form it's about taking something that is otherwise useless and finding another use for it.  Duh.  So I started a few projects.  Milk jugs were cleaned and saved so that we can use them at the fair for cane juice.  All veggie scraps, eggshells, coffee grounds, etc go into a pot or big bowl in the kitchen to eventually be composted.  (My wife just loves the slop bucket btw, lol)  Boxes and newspapers are saved to ship various eBay sales.  Egg cartons become seed starters.  I'm not quite a hoarder yet.  I will still toss stuff.  As far as metals go, I am still hanging on to copper.  I think there may be some potential cash there.

2. Light bulbs
I'll admit I was skeptical about CFL bulbs.  however, after having them in out most used light sockets for the last year I am sold.  More expensive, yes, but I think they'll pay off in the long run.  In tracking our electricity bill we have seen noticeable savings.  Not only do they use less energy, but they also give off a heap less heat which keeps the house cooler.  CFLs are a win.

3.  Solar Energy
I admit that I am a geek for solar energy and I am just getting into it.  I love the prospect of going off of the electrical grid.  The investment is staggering though.  It would be a $20,000+ investment to equip my home with complete solar.  Also to my knowledge there aren't enough batteries in the world to kick off my air conditioner compressor.  (For those not in my area, it was 102 here in South GA yesterday)  At this point I have a small kit and plan to experiment.  I only have about $150 in it and maybe I'll learn something.  I figure I can run the pool pump or maybe the lights in my shop or even and electric fence around the garden.  Each of those would be nice tests.  I would like to run my well off of solar, but I'm still learning about what that might take.  If I dive in that will be priority #1.

4.  Organic Gardening
Lets be clear.  I would be run out with torches and pitchforks if I claimed to be an organic gardener.  I use Sevin for the bugs, fungicide for the tomatoes and I put nitrogen to my corn.  I have found several organic practices that are beneficial though.  They're also cheaper and sometimes yield better results.

My first foray is in deer repellent.  I use a mixture of tobacco juice, hot sauce, ammonia and urine sprayed around my garden.  It works great.  The deer eventually get used to it so I have to rotate but it is a great repellent.  I rotate with sulfur and mix in motion sensor lights.  So far...pretty good

The other practice has been using manure under my potatoes and watermellons.  Made a huge difference and it was free.  Withe the compost pile this year we may go further with that practice next spring.

Did I mention that I tend the garden with a tractor from the late 1950's?  It blows smoke and leaks fluid.  Only thing green about it is the paint.  I'm of the impression that a little oil on the ground isn't a big deal really.

I'm trying to think of other things I can do.  Scouring the internet is getting a little redundant.  Everyone seems to be doing the same stuff.  If you are reading and have some suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  A couple of things that I would love to find uses for are burnt motor oil, dog fennel and loud children.  If you have any ideas, holler.

So there you have it.  I'm not really Green as much as I am a cheap-ass and a junk man :)   The practices have saved me a little money and helped me to "back 'er down."  Maybe I offset a teeny portion of my carbon footprint at the same time.  If so... that's great, but it was hardly my intention.

Ya'll take it easy,


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Summer Time

Well the summer is here.  It's pretty much the best time to "Back 'er Down."  The main reason being it gets so freaking hot here in my neck of the woods and you don't want to do much of anything else!

The garden continues to do well, and some of the earlier crops are starting to phase out.  We got enough potatoes to have a nice stockpile and to be able to share some with neighbors and co-workers.  So far we have been able to put up 47 quarts of snapbeans as well.  Since that is about the only veggie that my kids will eat those will go rather quickly.  Those two particular crops made up 1/3 of my entire garden and now its time to start planting something else in that dirt.  I'm thinking butterpeas, pumpkins and sweet potatoes are in order.  We will start breaking and processing corn this weekend.  The deer nipped a few ears but I still think we'll have a nice harvest.  Looks like we might just have some watermellons ready for the 4th of July as well.  I'm stoked about that!

I recently got my hands on a couple of new toys.  I know....I'm supposed to be saving money and living like a hermit right?  LOL!  I never said that ;)  Saving money is useless and counterproductive if you don't enjoy at least some of it.

The first toy is a boat.  B.O.A.T=Break Out Another Thousand.  Well... not really in this case ;)  My mega purchase was just a little 12 ft jon boat for the river.  I got the boat, motor and trailer for $600 and so far I'm very pleased with the purchase.  It's not really pretty and the motor is 40 years old (really...40) but it runs and it floats which is what I need.  I was able to take my 4 year old on a trip up river for the first time a couple of weeks ago and MAN, what a great time he had!  I'll make a river rat out of him yet!  It wasn't until a fishing trip this past weekend that I realized just how slow a 40 year old motor is.  My friends with a much more modern Yamaha were literally 3 times faster, lol.  I just kept telling myself...."Alex, it's a $600 boat."  I'm fired up about it and I think it will end up being of the cheapest forms of entertainment for me and my boys as the years go on.  Camping trips on the sandbar are definitely in our future!

The second toy is a new cell phone.  It's a Droid Eris in fact.  I got a little ribbing from my friend over at Kurt Busch Nation about that.  Not exactly a "Back 'er Down" kind of device for sure!  The wife and I have been thinking about new phones for a while.  We were Alltel customers for years and are now Verizon customers after the recent merger, so they have been throwing the kitchen sink at us with offers for almost a year now.  After some patience we found that we could get a pair of new Droids for $79...both phones...not $79 each.  Not bad for two phones of that caliber huh?  They really wanted us.  Why not?  We had been loyal Alltel customers for 10 years and always paid on time, lol.  That was fine because we have been pleased and figured not to go anywhere anyway.  The kicker came with the service plan.  Over 10 years we had peace mealed plans, lines, additions, promos, free stuff and discounts into a crazy looking plan.  It looked strange, but it worked for us and it was cheap.  I asked if we could leave our plan the same.  After laughing at what we had on file, and getting the approval of a manager, they agreed to leave us as we were.  So there you go.  $79 an the wife and I are pimping with a pair of Droids.  That explanation was just for you Cinde T :)

Thanks for the kind emails and Facebook messages that many of you have sent.  It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in this pursuit.  These are uncertain times.  Many people think our country is a sinking ship.  Some people are talking about how to right the ship.  I prefer to think about how I can get my family and friends safely on the lifeboat.  That sounds like a good blog in itself.....;)

Ya'll take it easy.